Justice Delayed, but Finally Delivered

Ivan Ocon, a deported Army veteran, stands on the left. Will Attig, executive director of the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, stands to the right.

We welcome home an American patriot this week who was unjustly deported six years ago. Ivan Ocon, a brave Army veteran, won the right to return to the United States with the support of a powerful network of organizations, including the AFL-CIO; the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO (UVC); the Deported Veterans Support House; and Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic. He was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a ceremony held in El Paso, Texas, today.

“Justice has finally been served for Ivan and his family, and we look forward to helping more of our deported veterans return home where they belong,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “A few years ago, I was part of a labor delegation that visited the border where we met with veterans in Juarez still proudly wearing their U.S. military uniforms, despite being unable to cross into Texas. We immediately knew we had to take action. Deporting people who have risked their lives to defend our democracy is disgraceful, and unions are determined to right these wrongs.”

In 2021, the AFL-CIO Executive Council launched a campaign, under the leadership of the Union Veterans Council, to end the unjust deportation of U.S. military veterans, including hundreds who have served our nation in combat. The campaign seeks to bring our deported veterans home, reunite families, and prevent further efforts to criminalize and tear apart immigrant communities. Today, with the invaluable support of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic, we will begin to see the concrete results of our advocacy. 

“This is an emotional day, and I’m so grateful to be reunited with my family. I want to thank everyone who worked on my behalf over the last six years to make this moment possible. This country is my home, and I will continue to fight to make sure that other veterans like me get the justice they deserve,” said Ocon.

“This win is just the beginning in our long fight to bring deported veterans home and ensure that they are no longer casualties of unjust immigration policies that target, rather than protect, working families. The stories of patriots like Ivan help to expose the failures of our veteran support systems and to challenge the toxic anti-immigrant narratives that are corroding our political discourse today,” said Will Attig (UA), executive director of the UVC.

As we celebrate this victory, the labor movement reaffirms its commitment to repatriate our deported patriots and prevent further miscarriage of justice. Service members must no longer be failed by the country they valiantly served, and we will do everything in our power to help them. 

Ivan Ocon (middle), a deported Army Veteran, stands with supporters on the day he is sworn in as a U.S. citizen.

“All the facts surrounding Ivan Ocon’s case—including his service to our nation—make clear that he has earned a chance to rejoin his family and continue his life as a citizen of the United States. We are proud to have done our small part to help bring him home to Texas,” said Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA).

"Ivan's story is a phenomenal victory, not only for himself and his family, but for the entire deported veterans movement who fought alongside him. The Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative (IMMVI), which was very helpful to Ivan’s case, represents a real commitment by the Biden Administration to assist deported veterans,” said Nate Urban, an attorney with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. “We must do more to identify veterans in need and the federal government must provide them with the legal aid they require.”